Once upon a time there was a princess who worked as a barista. (The King believed in a work ethic. Also, he scooped the tip jar every day.) All day every day, knights and peasants and bootmakers and jesters and pin-and-bead-and-shoelace salesmen demanded coffee and croissants and coconut dream bars and legs of mutton. They were all very badly behaved, throwing their cups and bones in the moat and telling ominous stories about the princess-eating dragon who lived three counties over. Sometimes after a few too many double espressos, they would flick damp sugar cubes at the princess's tall pointy hat.
The princess got rather tired of this, and complained to her father, who explained the principles of customer service before riding off to negotiate with the dragon. While he was gone and therefore unable to enforce any dress codes, the princess abandoned the pointy hat. She got tired of her blond curls collapsing in coffee steam and chopped them off in favor of a nice pageboy cut. She arranged for the long silken train of her gown to get caught in the dishwasher, forcing her to change into a pair of dragon-bedecked silk pajamas.
Word spread about the the short-haired princess in the shiny green pajamas. One day the dragon, lounging in his treasure hoard, caught sight of a picture of her in the Business section of the newspaper that was wrapping the panko-crusted fish dinner brought to him, as was usual on Saturday nights, by the King. For once, the dragon declined to bicker about the King's latest proposal, which tonight was an offer of the princess, the King's second-best horse, and a nearly-complete set of gold-edged china in exchange for three wheelbarrows of treasure of the King's choice.
Instead, the dragon looked up, dropping his fish, and accepted. Three wheelbarrows. Pick your treasure, park it in in the loading zone, fill out a shipping label, and get out. Shipment will commence when the princess is received. Scat.
The King, having expected a long comfortable autumn negotiating the sale of the princess and fishing in the dragon's swamp, rode home in a disgruntled mood that worsened at the sight of his short-haired trousers-wearing daughter. He complained all through her packing about the cost of the long blond wig that he'd had to buy for her for fear of a "not as represented" claim by the dragon. Off she went, after training the next sister to operate the milk steamer.
But unbeknownst to her father, the princess took away with her not only the key to the espresso machine, but the thermostat for the coffee roaster and the recipe for the King's favorite macciato. Worse, she changed the WiFi password, and so the populace streamed out of the coffeehouse, never to return.
The King received his three wheelbarrows of chosen treasure, achieving wealth beyond his dreams, but never again would he experience a hot beverage that tasted just right. He sank into a depression and spent his days polishing the dragon jewels and the rejected gold-edged china, while his remaining daughters quietly re-made the coffeehouse into an organic spa.
The princess? She threw away her wig outside the dragon's lair and marched in, short hair and silk pajamas and all, to scold him about the sins of consuming royalty, or for that matter women, or for that matter people, and, really, he oughtn't to eat the more intelligent mammals, like dogs and pigs and so on, either. But he'd read about her opinions in the Business section, and so she found him meekly eating fish and cheese. He mixed her a perfect chai latte with his own claws, and so started a beautiful friendship that continues to this day.
But he does eat bacon when she's out of town.
Image: By Joey Gannon. Wikimedia Commons.